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Don't watch

Movies | Watchmen turns a good graphic novel into a terrible film

Issue: "Ready or not, here we go," March 28, 2009

Is it a bad sign when you walk out of a theater wondering if you've ever seen a worse movie?

I appreciate good graphic novels (What's black and white and read all over?, June 28, 2008) and know that Watchmen on paper, first published in 1986/1987, is one of the best and most thoughtful long-form comic books ever. It examines the role of heroes in a cultural twilight and places them in a parallel universe where the Cold War, instead of winding down, is ratcheting up to mutual destruction.

Watchmen on film fails in every way. Its characters don't give us a reason to care about them. It trades comic book exuberance for sententious joylessness. It is ratomorphic, viewing human beings as vermin. It's pornographic in part, most obnoxiously in a sex scene that uses Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" as sacrilegious musical background.

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Watchmen is an object lesson in how following the letter of a work in one medium violates its spirit upon transfer to another. One panel's worth of comic book blood becomes prolonged bone-cracking, blood-gushing assault on the big screen. I have a high tolerance for movie violence, but this brutality was numbing.

Don't go.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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